Goran Dragic, on five-year max contract only Heat can offer him in free agency: ‘It’s pretty big’


The Heat acquired Goran Dragic at the trade deadline, after Dragic informed the Suns that he wouldn’t re-sign there when he became an unrestricted free agent at the conclusion of this season.

Miami didn’t give up a ton to get Dragic, but they did part ways with Norris Cole and two future first-round draft picks for what was only guaranteed to be a rental of no more than 27 games.

Of course, the Heat traded for Dragic believing that he’d be willing to consider signing with the franchise long-term, and that has theoretically been the plan all along. While Dragic has said he plans to wade through all of the offers he receives from other teams, he admitted that the fifth year Miami can offer on a max deal is one of the Heat’s big advantages.

From Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel:

“There has not been any indication, any discussion at all with he or his representatives about anything other than when I made the trade and gave up two picks for him. You roll the dice,” Riley said. “But you also feel good about the fact that we’re in a very good position to offer him more than anybody else.”

The fifth, additional, year that only the Heat are allowed to offer could be worth as much as $26.2 million.

“It’s pretty big,” Dragic said of securing such a fifth season. “Because every player wants to sign as long as he can. Of course, my goal is to stay in that spot that I’m going to sign.”

While it is difficult to overlook an additional $30 million, Dragic said it also will be about more than money.

“I mean, of course every offer, we’re going to go through,” he said, with the Los Angeles Lakers among the potential suitors. “But I think that the most important thing is the team, who is around me, what kind of style. Because, first of all, I want to be happy, happy to play that style of basketball that I want to play. And I think that’s the main thing for now, not the money.”

After clashing with the Suns front office, Dragic should be happy with the stability of the Miami organization, with Pat Riley firmly in command and Erik Spoelstra seemingly not going anywhere after just completing his seventh Heat season.

If he trusts that Miami can rebuild quickly, that (along with a fifth year on a shiny new max contract) might be enough to convince him to re-sign with the Heat, instead of pursuing other opportunities that will likely be there in places like L.A. or New York if he wants them.

Thunder have fired head coach Scott Brooks


The Oklahoma City Thunder have fired head coach Scott Brooks, according to a report from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

Thunder GM Sam Presti traveled to meet Scott Brooks in California today and delivered the news, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.

Brooks will immediately become a top candidate for the openings in Orlando and Denver, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.

Brooks was well-liked by his players, and faced an impossible mission this season. Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka all missed significant time due to injury, and a midseason trade (or two) shaking up the roster didn’t make things any easier.

He was, however, consistently criticized for his lack of imagination on the offensive end of the floor, where his detractors believed that the superior talent of Durant and Westbrook bailed out poorly-designed sets far too often, and on a fairly consistent basis.

But this isn’t really about Brooks. This is about Durant, as he enters his final season in Oklahoma City before having an opportunity to leave as an unrestricted free agent next summer.

The Thunder franchise has one season to get it right, and make a legitimate title run in order to make Durant’s choice that much more difficult. Those running the show obviously felt that goal would be better-served with someone new patrolling the sidelines.

“This is an extremely difficult decision on many levels. Scott helped establish the identity of the Thunder and has earned his rightful place in the history of our organization through his seven years as a valued leader and team member,” said Sam Presti, Thunder Executive Vice President and General Manager, in a statement posted on the team website. “As we all know, this past year we had unique and challenging circumstances and as I have conveyed, not many people could have accomplished what Scott and this team were able to. Therefore, it is very important to state that this decision is not a reflection of this past season, but rather an assessment of what we feel is necessary at this point in time in order to continually evolve, progress and sustain. We determined that, in order to stimulate progress and put ourselves in the best position next season and as we looked to the future, a transition of this kind was necessary for the program. We move forward with confidence in our foundation and embrace the persistence and responsibility that is required to construct an elite and enduring basketball organization capable of winning an NBA championship in Oklahoma City.”

Brooks coached the Thunder for seven seasons, amassing a regular season record of 338-207, while guiding Oklahoma City to one NBA Finals appearance — a loss to the Miami Heat in 2012.

Wojnarowski also reports that despite issuing a public statement to the contrary, UConn head coach Kevin Ollie has significant interest in the position.

Evan Turner critical of late-game officiating following Celtics’ Game 2 loss to Cavaliers


The Cavaliers took Game 2 from the Celtics, and took a 2-0 series lead in the process.

But Boston had its chances.

After falling behind by as many as 14 points in the third quarter, Boston clawed its way back to be within just four points with 3:32 to play.

The next possession, however, saw a questionable foul called on Avery Bradley, which sent Kyrie Irving to the line for two free throws.

Irving converted them both, and the game was never closer than six points the rest of the way.

Evan Turner wasn’t pleased with that call, nor was he thrilled with another that took place on a prior possession. Not surprisingly, he was critical of the late-game officiating when speaking with reporters afterward.

From Brian Robb of

“I mean, you know, not to knock on [LeBron and Kyrie],” Turner told reporters in Cleveland after Game 2. “They are great players, but Avery [Bradley] is a known defender…To call a foul [when Irving is shooting] behind the backboard in that type of possession, it should never be called. It wasn’t a playable shot. It wasn’t a makeable shot.

“That was the craziest call, and then at the end of the game, you call a travel on the ground [when] that was the same [type of defense Bradley was playing] the whole time? That was the only tough part about today. That didn’t make any sense.”

The foul on Bradley wasn’t a great call, primarily because Irving kicking his leg out on the follow-through is what caused the contact, and his resulting fall to the floor.

But the league’s best teams consistently put themselves in a position where one bad call won’t doom their chances. And we all know that the Celtics aren’t even close to being there just yet.

Chris Paul, Luol Deng to appear in NBA’s first exhibition game in Africa on Aug. 1

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As the NBA continues its push to grow the game on a global scale, the league announced that it will hold its first-ever exhibition game in Africa this summer.

“The NBA has worked hard to grow the game of basketball in Africa, and I am excited to take this next step of playing our first game on the continent,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, via official release.  “Our players have been tremendous partners in this effort, and all of us look forward to sharing the authentic NBA experience and the values of our game with fans in Africa.”

Chris Paul and Luol Deng will serve as team captains, in what will be a Team World vs. Team Africa game format. The contest will take place Aug. 1 at Ellis Park Arena in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Others scheduled to participate include  2014-15 NBA Coach of the Year Mike Budenholzer of the Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn Nets head coach Lionel Hollins, Nets General Manager Billy King, NBA Global Ambassador Dikembe Mutombo, NBA Africa Ambassador Hakeem Olajuwon, San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens, Toronto Raptors General Manager Masai Ujiri and New Orleans Pelicans head coach Monty Williams.

Thunder’s Enes Kanter underwent arthroscopic knee surgery, expected to be out 4-6 weeks


The official release:

Oklahoma City Thunder center Enes Kanter underwent successful arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, the team announced today.

Kanter, who was acquired on Feb. 19 from the Utah Jazz, appeared in 26 games (26 starts) with the Thunder averaging 18.7 points on 56.6 percent shooting from the floor (196-of-346), 11.0 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 31.1 minutes per game. Overall, the fourth-year center played in 75 games (74 starts) with Utah and Oklahoma City, averaging 15.5 points and 8.9 rebounds in 28.5 minutes per contest.

Kanter is expected to miss 4-6 weeks before returning to normal offseason activities.

This shouldn’t impact much of anything where the Thunder are concerned. The team missed the playoffs, and Kanter’s projected recovery time would have him back on the court well before the start of training camp in October.

Kanter’s interior offense was a welcome addition to the Thunder lineup, though he’ll need to greatly improve on the defensive end of the floor to play heavy minutes once everyone’s back healthy next season.